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The Best Cold Process Soap Recipe

A super bubbly homemade soap with great cleansing and moisturizing properties. Once you try this recipe, it will be all you want to use!

This cold process soap recipe is the best ever. It makes a moisturizing yet cleansing bar with tons of lather.

stack of pink soap bars

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Perfectly balanced between cleansing and moisturizing: Every oil brings its own properties to a bar of soap, and finding the perfect soap recipe is a balance of those things. This recipe does it.
  • Tons of lather and big bubbles. This is most people’s complaint about homemade soap, and this recipe takes care of it.
  • Suitable for beginners. Yes, it has a lot of oils, but the basic process is the same as any recipe. If you’ve never made cold-process soap before, you should read my Beginners Guide to Soapmaking first.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients on counter

You’ll need the following for this bubbly bar:

  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • palm oil
  • sweet almond oil
  • castor oil
  • avocado oil
  • mango butter
  • lye
  • water
  • fragrance and color (optional)
  • sodium lactate for a harder bar

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🍴Instructions

Step One: Measure water and LYE

pyrex cup with lye on top
Remember “snow floats on the lake”: the lye goes on top

First measure your lye and water separately using a digital scale, then carefully combine them.  Pour your water into a cup you don’t care much about, then add the lye to the water, stir it until it dissolves, and set it somewhere it will not be knocked over, drank, or otherwise messed with.

Step Two: Measure, melt, and cool the oils

oil and butter in stainless steel pot

Melt them on your stovetop, bringing the temperature up to around 140.

Now everything needs to cool to about 110 to 120 degrees.  It will take a few hours.  Check with a thermometer.

If you’re using sodium lactate, add it now to the cooled lye water.

Step three: Blend to trace

stick blender combining water and oils

Once your temperatures are right, it is time to combine.   Pour the lye water into the pot of oils and stick blend.

Important: Before you do this, make sure any color and fragrance you want to add are ready to go, and that your mold is prepared. Things will move very quickly and you don’t want your soap batter hardening in the pot. 

Until everything is combined and you have reached a thin “trace”.  This means your soap had thickened up JUST a little.  If you were to drizzle a bit of soap on top, it would stay instead of sinking in.  

Step FouR: Add Color and fragrance and pour into mold

pouring pink soap batter into loaf mold

Add color and fragrance and stir by hand or slowly with the stick blender.

Then pour everything into your prepared mold.

Step FIVE: CUre and cut

cut bars on tea towel

Let the soap cure in a warm, draft-free place (such a turned-off oven that has been warmed to 140 degrees, then turned off), or wrapped in quilts.

The next morning or afternoon you take it out and cut it into bars.   Let it cure for 3-5 weeks before using in the shower

🥫 Storage instructions

Once fully cured, homemade soap should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated spot. I like to put it in shoe boxes in the closet with layers of newspaper in between the bars.

While it is in use, use a soap saver to keep your bar dry. It will last much longer.

🔍 FAQs

What kind of mold did you use?

A 10-inch silicone mold. It’s my favorite for most soaps.

What type of color is this pink?

It is a pink mica from Nurture Soap. You can find it here.

Can I use this recipe in individual cavity molds?

Yes, absolutely. I’d recommend using sodium lactate since it can be a bit soft when unmolding it.

What are the best soap fragrances?

This is 100% personal preference (except for the fact that florals are more difficult to work with). My personal favorites are Comfort and Joy from Nurture Soap and Mango Mango from Brambleberry

Will this recipe work with swirls or embeds?

Yes! I used to swirl it all the time before I got too lazy. 😊

Can I resize this?

You sure can. You’ll need the following percentages:

Coconut Oil: 26.83%
Mango Butter: 4.88%
Olive Oil: 21.95%
Palm Oil: 21.95%
Sweet Almond Oil: 4.88%


Enter them into a soap calculator with the desired size of your batch and it will give you the correct amounts.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Working with lye is dangerous and you must be in a well-ventilated, distraction-free workspace. Wear goggles and gloves to protect yourself and keeps kids and pets away.
  • You must follow soapmaking recipes exactly. If you’re going to make changes or substitutions, you must first run the recipe through a lye calculator and accept that you’ve created your own recipe at this point.
  • Castor oil is the “secret” to big bubbles. Don’t substitute!

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📖 Here’s the recipe

4.23 from 121 votes

The Best Cold Process Soap Recipe

Print Recipe
A super bubbly homemade soap with great cleansing and moisturizing properties. Once you try this recipe, it will be all you want to use!
Prep Time:30 mins
curing time:1 d
Total Time:1 d 30 mins
Click here to grab a free seasonal e-cookbook!

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 11 ounces coconut oil
  • 9 ounces olive oil
  • 9 ounces palm oil
  • 2 ounces sweet almond oil
  • 4 ounces castor oil
  • 4 ounces avocado oil
  • 2 ounces mango butter
  • 5.83 ounces lye
  • 10-15 ounces water
  • 3 tablespoons fragrance oil for a strong scent, vary this to your preferences
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate optional, for a harder bar
  • colorant or mica optional

Instructions

  • Using a digital scale, measure out the lye and water in separate glass containers.  Combine them by adding the lye to the water.  (Remember: snow floats on the lake.). Stir until the lye dissolves.  The temperature will shoot up.  Place this in a safe place to cool.
  • While the lye solution is cooling, measure out the oils and butters and combine them in a large stainless pot.  Melt them over low heat and heat them up to 130-140 degrees.  Set them aside to cool.
  • After 2 hours, check the temperature of both solutions.  They should be around 110 degrees.  (A range of 100-120 is fine.). If not, allow them to cool longer.
  • Prepare your mold and measure out any fragrance or color you will be adding.  (For best blending of colors, mix some color into a few drops of melted oils.). If using sodium lactate, add it to the lye water at this time.
  • Pour the water and lye solution into the pot with the melted oils.  Blend with a stick blender until thin trace is reached.  The soap batter will noticeable thicken and a trail of soap will sit on top of the liquid rather than immediately sinking in.  (This will take about 1 minute.). Add the color and fragrance and stir by hand.
  • Immediately pour the soap batter into the mold.  Place in a turned off oven or wrap with blankets to insulate the soap.
  • After 24 hours of curing, unmold and cut into bars.  The bars may seem slightly soft but will harden considerably during the curing process. Allow to cure at least 3 weeks in a well-ventilated place.

Notes

Follow standard soap making safety guidelines!
Keyword: best cold process soap recipe, extra lather cold process soap
Author: Katie Shaw
Did you make this recipe?Tag me @heartscontentfarmhouse so I can see!

194 thoughts on “The Best Cold Process Soap Recipe”

  1. Hi Katie, thanks for the recipe! Tonight was the second time I tried making this soap and I noticed that it came to trace very quickly (about a minute?) and by the time I tried to add in my fragrance and color it had seized completely. I made sure my lye solution and oils were within ~ 5 degrees, around 105. Any idea what might’ve happened?

    Reply
    • hi Alex, this sometimes happens to me with a floral fragrance oil. Since yours seemed to be tracing quickly before adding the fragrance, it may be that you used the lower amount of water and it traced a bit too fast. I would just increase the water towards the higher end of the range. 🙂

      Reply
  2. I’m going to make this soon. Supplies have been ordered! I’m sensitive to fragrance. Can I just leave that part out without making any other recipe adjustments? Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Hi Katie, I’m replacing the water with raw goat milk. I already know I can do this with no problems but also know you have to be careful the milk doesn’t get scorched from the lye. Any suggestions???
    Thanks

    Reply
  4. Id love to try this recipe as my first ever attempt at soaping, but was wondering if it’s ok to substitute shea or cocoa butter for the palm oil. Thanks!

    Reply
    • hi chitsa! any time you substitute an oil in soap it becomes your own custom recipe, it’s hard to make changes without affecting the outcome. that being said, the best substitute for palm is babbasou (not sure I spelled that right!)

      Reply
    • yes water is flexible in soap recipes. look up the term “water discount” for soap making for a little more information on it. I would simply use an amount in the middle. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi Kathie!
    thanks so much for the recipe! I’ve been looking into soap making and wanting to make my own soap for a while now but I was worried it would be a great waiste of money. I have convinced me otherwise. Looking forward to trying this recipe, as well as the dish soap one. Looking forward too less heart breaking plastic garbage too! One question though about this recipe: for the fragrance, You mention in the recipe to put “3 T. of fragrance”. What is “3 T.” refering to? thanks in advance!
    -Steph

    Reply
    • Oh deer (oh dear)
      Note to self: always read before publishing LOL. Sorry about the mistakes. It is: *”a great waste…” and, “YOU have convinced me”… “looking forward to…” :/

      Reply
  6. I notice you used a glass container to make the lye solution. That is a very unsafe practice. Lye etches glass and it can literally make the container explode. Use only lye-safe materials when making soap…#2 or #5 plastic or stainless steel.

    Reply
  7. My grand babies have eczema and this looks like a great soap for that. Can I buy these oils at the grocery store? Also I want to make a wooden mold. What size will hold this recipe? Thank you for your easy to understand videos.

    Reply
    • hi Denise! I would surprised if your grocery store had the oils. my favorite sources are Brambleberry or nurture soap. you’ll need a mold that will hold about 55 ounces. (btw, you’ll need to line a wooden mold with paper and silicone is easier to work with)

      Reply
  8. 5 stars
    How come you didn’t use a shea butter? I have never used mango butter? Is it preferred to Shea? Would love to hear your ideas on that?

    Reply
    • I like shea butter too! I feel like mango hardens a bar a little more and feels less heavy on the skin. but not a huge difference! if you want to sub shea, that’s fine, just check with a lye calculator 🙂

      Reply
    • you can try babassau oil as a palm oil substitute and do more olive oil instead of the sweet almond. you’ll need to run it through a lye calculator to see if the amount of lye changes.

      Reply
  9. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. It’s amazing. My colors are strong and the lather is by far the best I’ve ever seen !!!Thank you for sharing!!!

    Reply
      • hi fonda! I’m not sure exactly what you mean, there is no active lye in the finished bar. but it’s definitely possible that you’re referring to something. I’m not familiar with. typically soap is fine to use as shampoo, but let me k now if you’ve heard something. different. 🙂

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